Adventures of a Tea Trainer by Lucy Chappell
So here we are again, the trees are up, and the halls are decked. It’s party time!
The Christmas season is one of indulgence and frivolity. Out of the proverbial window goes all balanced diets, any thoughts of responsible drinking, and all caution is thrown to the wind.
So, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that at this time of the year in the UK we consume more booze and food than at any other time. On Christmas day alone, the average alcohol drinker consumes 19 units, that’s 15 more than the recommended daily allowance. Couple that with the colossal amount of food that’s scoffed at around 6,000 calories and it’s no wonder that we roll into January with a determination to join that gym and loose the Christmas bloat with the new year’s mantra ‘never again'. Well, at least until next year!
January is now ‘Dry January’, and I don’t mean the weather. In 2015, two million people were reported to have abstained from drink and this is predicted to increase year-on-year.
What does this mean for tea? This is a massive opportunity to increase sales.
Firstly, discounting English breakfast with milk and sugar. Tea is already perceived as a ‘health drink’ which is an advantage that you can play on. Fact: Tea has zero calories, that’s zero in any type of tea even black tea, unless we add milk and sugar.
Secondly, you must be careful when making health claims. Fact: Green tea does not, I repeat not make you lose weight, give you a six pack or cure all of your ails. Yes, green tea does have a lot of antioxidants, which is the magic word in superfoods. They are all made from the Camellia Sinenis plant and they only differ because of the process they go through after harvest.
Thirdly, the tea category is huge and if done well the value of a cup of tea can go from £1.25 to £3 or £4. Yes you did read that correctly. Loose leaf tea served correctly is the only way you will command this price but you need to invest is a glass tea pot and infuser, stop using coffee cups and use something that distinguishes tea in its own right. Stock a minimum of eight different types of tea, a few infusions and proudly present them on the menu, on your A-boards and show them off at the counter. Most importantly train your staff to give customers a fantastic experience.
You can make hot teas, ice teas, pair with food or even add as an ingredient. Make tea mocktails or for those that say f@*k dry January there are always tea cocktails.
Finally, don’t forget that Christmas doesn’t mean drinking for everyone. More and more people are abstaining from alcohol, especially millennials who are drinking far less than all other generations. There are many reasons people don’t drink - health, religion or maybe they’ve pulled the designated driver straw. Gone are the days when a coke was the alternative beverage of choice, people want more options and if its baltic outside then a nice warming tea will fill the void.
Tea is for everyone and for any time, but don’t lump us all in the English breakfast or ‘normal tea’ category. Have choice, select better and create experience!
- Lucy Chappell is managing director and head of training at the London School of Tea.
- Lucy Chappell will be chairing the two opening sessions of the European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo Tea Theatre, which is held in association with National Tea Day. She will also be running a Tea Theatre session every day.